The government’s controversial plan to privatise the Land Registry, introduced by now Prime Minister Theresa May under a sell-off programme spearheaded by former Chancellor George Osborne, was expected to be included in the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, which was published last month.

However, following a backlash from MPs, property professionals and campaigners, the proposal was quietly removed from the Bill that was prepared for parliament’s approval.

The proposals attracted criticism from various sources including the Competition and Markets Authority, the Law Society and John Manthorpe, the former Chief Land Registrar. The Open Data Institute, established by the government in 2012 to promote transparency, also opposed any sale.

The overriding concern with any privatisation of the Land Registry surround loss of independence, potential fee increases and loss of employment.

According to sources, the Land Registry currently runs at a profit and generated a £19 million surplus dividend in 2015. The Land Registry, although part of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, is self-financing and is therefore not a financial burden on the taxpayer.

The main purpose of the Neighbourhood Bill is to help the government meet its ambition of delivering one million new homes. However, concerns have been raised that any sale of the Land Registry would ultimately cost the government more money than it would save in the long term.

It remains to be seen whether the privatisation proposals will be revived in the future. In the medium term, the future of the Land Registry as a public and independent body remains secure.

Please note that this information is provided for general knowledge only and therefore specific advice should be sought for individual cases.

For further information, please contact Philip Mundy